Genuine befuddlement

Milbank has recently taken to claiming that there is something fascist about disconnecting sex and reproduction. See this quasi-interview, for example:

The groups mentioned may not want to shake Milbank’s hand: he opposes gay marriage (“I don’t want to get into the situation where we deny there is something special about being attracted to the opposite sex”).

He says he is concerned about working-class women being left to raise children alone, “in part – alongside economic factors – because of the collapse of the male ethos of supporting the woman”, and has written most stridently in opposition to in vitro fertilisation treatment for single women.

“By supporting the total disjuncture of sex and procreation, the Left is really supporting a new mode of fascism,” Milbank says.

My question is a simple one: what on earth is he talking about? Is “a new mode” doing all the work here, meaning that he gets to define it out of the air, or is there something else going on?

6 thoughts on “Genuine befuddlement

  1. Halden over at Inhabitio Dei blogged about this a could of days ago and mentioned that Zizek thinks it has to do with Milbank being influenced by Pope Benedict. As far as “fascism” goes, this seems like a typical irresponsible use of a term that hardly means anything other than “I will not critically engage you.”

  2. Is it something to do with eugenics? By “enabling” poor people to have sex without having babies, you’re subtly reinforcing a eugenic norm about who should and shouldn’t be having babies? There’s something of that about Benedict’s line, isn’t there?

  3. It really isn’t just “the Left” that is supporting contraception (I can only assume that this is what he is referring to). I can’t imagine that very many people agree, even within the pews of Catholic churches, with the pope’s anti-contraception stance. The more I think about this quote, the less it makes sense and I wonder if Milbank was just being sloppy in an off-the-cuff quote.

    The eugenics point is interesting, but I figure that anyone with the sense to use a condom has the sense to take it off when he wants to produce offspring.

    Perhaps he is objecting to a western norm (sex/pleasure without babies/consequences) being introduced to a foreign culture? I am not familiar enough with Milbank to make any sense out of his use of “fascism” in this context.

  4. This probably has something to do with the role of desire in sexuality. Unmoor it from any sort of telos (i.e. reproduction), let it just be sex for sex’s sake, one is subject to the tyranny of one’s own desires, a sort of fascism. Although that’s pure speculation of course. (Well, maybe not pure. I did write on Bataille underneath him, after all.)

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